Pro-democracy activist Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat said upon his hospital release yesterday that he was told he would only be provided protection if he gives up his political activism.
Upon Sirawith’s release from Ramathibodi Hospital following a brutal beating late last month, the anti-junta activist told the media he was given two choices by police: give up campaigning against the military government and be protected, or continue at his own peril.
None other than deputy PM and junta No. 2 Prawit Wongsuwan today confirmed the choice presented to Sirawith, which, read another way, sounds like a threat of violence should the 27-year-old continue his campaign.
Prawit said that giving up activism meant Sirawith would no longer be involved in politics. Though he refused to weigh in on the ultimatum, Prawit told reporters the decision to provide witness protection was up to the police.
Sirawith wrote online Saturday that his condition was gradually improving, saying it would take about half a year for his wounded eye to recover and his sight to fully return.
He said he had sought to defer entry into his master’s degree program in India. Attempts to reach the activist for comment today were unsuccessful.
Since the 2014 coup d’etat, Sirawith has been a key leader of the pro-democracy movement, leading campaigns calling out graft and nepotism by the military government and pressing for elections.
The attack took place in broad daylight on June 28 and left the activist with critical injuries including a fractured eye socket and nose. Four masked men beat Sirawith with baseball bats after he left his home in Bangkok’s Khan Na Yao district. It was the second such attack on him in a month and the latest in escalating violence against government critics.
Police brass said last week they were confident the attack was politically motivated.